Speculations have been rife regarding the absence of wicket-keeper batter Ishan Kishan from the Indian cricket team squad for the upcoming T20I series against Afghanistan, set to commence on Thursday. Kishan, who opted out of the Test series against South Africa citing personal reasons, faced rumors linking his exclusion to a Dubai trip and participation in a television game show. However, head coach Rahul Dravid dispelled these speculations during the pre-match press conference ahead of the first T20I. Dravid clarified that Kishan had requested rest and had not made himself available for selection yet, intending to play domestic cricket before officially making himself available for the national team.
The T20I series against Afghanistan holds immense significance as it serves as the sole T20I series preceding the T20 World Cup in 2024, providing players with a crucial opportunity to showcase their capabilities.
In addition to Kishan, KL Rahul was also omitted from the squad, with Jitesh Sharma and Sanju Samson securing their places as wicket-keepers. The return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to the T20 format after a hiatus of 14 months is a major point of interest as India takes on Afghanistan in their first-ever white-ball series.
This three-match contest against Afghanistan marks India’s final T20I series before the T20 World Cup in June, offering the team a valuable assessment of its standing ahead of the ICC event in the Americas. The selection of the final 15 for the World Cup will be based on the core group’s performance in the IPL, which precedes the global tournament.
While Rohit and Kohli are expected to be certainties in the World Cup squad now that they are back in the T20 setup, their focus remains on extracting the most from the games against Afghanistan. Notably, Afghanistan will be without their star spinner Rashid Khan, who is still recuperating from a back surgery conducted in November last year.
Addressing Rashid Khan’s absence, Afghanistan captain Ibrahim Zadran expressed the team’s readiness to face challenges, acknowledging the spinner’s unavailability and hoping that other players in the side would step up to fill the void during the series.